ICC Ratified by 66 Countries, Will Begin Operation in July
Ten nations ratified the International Criminal Court (ICC) today bringing the total number of nations to ratify the 1998 Rome treaty to 66, meaning that the ICC will finally enter into force this July. The ICC will operate across from the International Criminal Tribunal until it can move into its permanent home in the Hague, Netherlands in 2007. The ICC is a permanent court designed to prosecute war criminals, genocide, and crimes against humanity. Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the ICC also presents clear language defining gender crimes to include rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity. “A page in the history of humankind is being turned,” said United Nations Chief Legal Counsel Hans Corell.
The United States is one of the few Western countries not to ratify the ICC. The Bush Administration is even considering “unsigning” the treaty. "Unsigning" the ICC treaty would be a formal indication that the U.S. has no intention of ever ratifying the treaty and wishes to be released from its obligations. British Foreign Minister Jack Straw has reportedly warned Secretary of State Colin Powell that attacking the ICC will provoke a clash with European allies. According to the UN Under-Secretary for Legal Affairs no country has ever left a UN treaty unsigned.
The ten countries to ratify the ICC today were: Bosnia, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Congo, Ireland, Jordan, Mongolia, Niger, Romania, and Slovakia.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .